'Dangerous' Heat Withers Some Cyclists on RAGBRAI
Some riders seek respite in a church; for others, it's cooling ice; and one West Des Moines businessman is questioning why he didn't bring a wading pool to the bike ride across Iowa.
The pictures say it all.
When Charlie Hines of Marion stopped by the Patch.com RV, which is rolling across Iowa with RAGBRAI this week, he couldn’t cool his body.
Hines said he had been training, riding 50-plus miles a day since Memorial Day, and he’d already endured some of the worst in hot, steamy weather that Iowa has dished out in decades. The National Wather Service calls the heat "dangerous," and issued an excessive heat warning along the RAGBRAI route and most of central Iowa through Wednesday.
Hines was ready. Or so he thought.
All that rigorous training hadn’t prepared him for the searing heat that burned all the way to his core on the 54-mile ride from Sioux Center, where RAGBRAI began Sunday, to Cherokee. The air was heavy with humidity and the temperatures hovered near the 100-degree mark. The heat index was around 108 degrees.
When he finally made it to Cherokee about mid-afternoon Sunday, he slumped down in a pew at Trinity Lutheran Church, joining dozens of riders spent by the oppressive weather.
The church looked like a refugee camp, someone noted. Or Jonestown, someone with a more acerbic wit said. Hines couldn’t get cool there, either.
Dr. Mark Graber, an ER doc at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, suggested to Hines and other riders that they cool down with some ice. Hine found it at the Patch RV, scooped a handful from a tub filled with complimentary water for Patch’s friends with the Bicycle Iowa City group, and put a bag of it on his head.
It helped, he said, stopping by the RV to say thanks.
This year’s border-to-border bike ride is among the hottest since the Des Moines Register started the ride 40 years ago.
Riders began clearing out of the Cherokee campgrounds hours before sunrise, including a group that set out just before a pop-up thunderstorm around midnight. They were saddled up and ready to go before the clouds opened, setting off a rapid succession of flap-closings in the tent city that pops up in overnight towns along the route.
On Monday, temperatures reportedly topped 100 degrees on the 62-mile ride from Cherokee to Lake View. More of the same is in store until Thursday, when the heat wave is expected to moderate and offer temperatures around 90.
The ride hadn’t even begun yet when Greg Rasmussen, who owns Rasmussen Bike Shop in West Des Moines, was starting to regret the decision not to bring a kiddie pool to cool off in as his crew pumped up tires, fixed bikes and offered merchandise to the riders.
They’d done that one year, in 1997, when the weather was similar to this summer’s, one of the hottest and driest on record in most parts of Iowa, said Rasmussen, whose shop has been an official RAGBRAI bike shop for most of the history of the ride. They’ve only missed two.
For more RAGBRAI photos, go to Patch.com’s Flickr gallery. And if you’re riding RAGBRAI, submit them to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name, hometown and state in the subject line.
Also, look for our Patch.com RV in overnight communities along the route.
Think you're suffering heat related illness?
- Signs of heat exhaustion include sweaty skin, headaches, dizziness, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, weakness and cramps. Seek medical attention if you think you're experiencing any of these.
- Symptoms of heat stroke, which is more serious, include red, hot, dry skin; high temperature; confusion; fainting and convulsions. Seek medical attention immediately.
To avoid heat illness in hot weather, drink water every 15 minutes; rest in the shade and wear light-colored clothing.